August 3, 2001
Dear Subscriber:

I try not to write drippy articles. I don't like drippy. I
don't think readers want to read drippy.

I have a deep respect and love for my father-in-law. That's it
for drippy.

I met Dr. Gerald W. Thomas during the Christmas holidays of 
1982. My future wife invited me to Las Cruces so we could tell
her parents we were getting married. No problem. I fancied
myself a charmer. I spent little time in the home of Dr. and
Mrs. Thomas before I realized I was in way over my head. I
immediately realized I had no idea what the word "charm" meant.

"Our home is your home," Mrs. Thomas said to me as we walked 
into the spacious living room of the New Mexico State University
President's Mansion in Las Cruces. The huge house was bustling
as they prepared for an official holiday social gathering that
night. As "Mr. Charm", I felt suddenly very insignificant.

Peggy had told me her dad was the president of New Mexico State
University, but I don't guess that position registered with me
until I saw it for myself. I watched mesmerized as Mrs. Thomas
directed the preparations for the party. The flowers go there.
The finger-food trays go over there. Remember, Professor so-
and-so doesn't like ham. The Governor may or may not show up,
but if he does, IT'S HIS PARTY! All I could think about was my
jeans didn't have a crease.

Gerald came in through the kitchen door. "Hullow!" he said to
Mrs. Thomas.

Mrs. Thomas said to him, "Gerald...this is Don. Peggy's friend."
I was scared spitless.

"Hullow, Don!" he said. I was the recipient of a vigorous
handshake. Over the last 18 years I've heard Gerald project
that "Hullow!" into a room many times and it still makes me 
feel good.

In those same 18 years, I've never heard my father-in-law speak
ill of another person. If I or any member of his family has 
ever let him down, he has never said so. He has a knowing smile
that tells you he's enjoying every minute.

I guess I could embellish and say Gerald and I are bosom 
buddies. We have gone fishing several times and we've 
collaborated on around-the-house building projects over the 
years, but my admiration for him has been mostly from a 
distance. He and Jean (I finally screwed up the courage to 
call Mrs. Thomas by her first name) have had a busy life filled
with friends and events and trips. He retired (it is probably 
more accurate to say "they retired"; the university presidency 
was a partnership for them) some 17 years ago, but retirement 
had nothing to do with a rocking chair and a checker board. He
is still called upon frequently by the university to speak or 
to serve on advisory boards. He feeds upon activity. When we do
visit them or when they come to see us, it is a special time.

OK, maybe he's not a saint, but that's only because he's

A while ago, after over 5 decades of putting his war memories
behind him, Gerald decided to write a book about his experiences
as a World War II Navy torpedo plane pilot. With the
collaboration of David Thomas (Gerald's son, my brother-in-law
and the Webmaster for Cloudcroft.com and this newsletter),
drawing from his diaries and journals, he has compiled a
comprehensive synopsis of those times. Some are fun memories
...others are horrific.

Here's the site:


I'm glad he decided to do the project, as painful as some of
the recollections must have been. Those of us in younger 
generations need to know what these people went through during
the second world war. There will come a time when all we have 
to remind us of those events will be the writings they left us.

In May, Peg and I drove to Las Cruces to help Gerald and Jean
in some fix-up work around their rental properties.

The knowing smile was gone. Gerald was 82 years old and not
feeling good. I was scared. The man that had taken up the
hammer to work with me on several carpentry projects over the
years was leaving the work-site and going back into the house.

I desperately wanted him back on the job.

It was a time of reflection for me. This self-made man...a
veteran of a war who wrote important books and was the guiding
light of a university was not feeling well. He was sick. Gerald
was not supposed to get sick.


It was Gerald. He and Jean came to see us in Cloudcroft last
weekend. The smile was back. Dr. Thomas was ship shape and
reporting for duty.

A mist fell on the canopy over the deck as we shared stories of
what they had been doing and what we had been doing since last
we saw each other. It was a special time.

They all are.

Don Vanlandingham

An elongated rainy season has even the old fuddy-duddys in the
village approaching life with a brighter outlook. There were 20
days in July that saw precipitation.

Fire danger is down to "moderate" in the Sacramento Mountains
and is listed as "low" on the Mescalero Apache Reservation.

Highs are near 80. Over-night lows are around 42.
I love dogs! I also think people who love dogs are great 
people. I don't like or trust people who do not like dogs.

Don, here is a picture of my best friends riding, as they 
always do, in my golf cart around my course, trying to help
me. The white one is Boston, who is totally blind, a great
dog and 9 years old. Buster is 5 and on the left. He is 
overweight at 32 pounds and his Daddy is on the right, 
Brinkley who is 10 years old.

They ALL are purebred miniature poodles, but I cut them myself
and leave the sissy poodle cut out, going with a short cut

Rocky Meadows Golf Course 
Carlisle, PA

[You can see Mike's dogs here:]


Three new hiking trails will be constructed along the Sunspot
Highway (NM-6563). The Sacramento Ranger District will work 
with Rails-To-Trails in designing and building the new trails.
Whether you enjoy golfing, hiking, hunting, snow skiing,
snowmobiling or just relaxing, you will love this Southwest
style townhouse. This beautiful 3-level townhouse overlooks the
8th hole of the Lodge Golf Course. With 5-1/2 bedrooms and 3
baths, it sleeps 13 comfortably. A fully-equipped kitchen,
satellite TV, fireplace, two decks, spa tub, and washer and
dryer will make your stay one to remember!

See their link the Lodging page of Cloudcroft.com for more


The Museum is open year-round. Admission is FREE. Hours on
weekdays are 8am to 4pm and 10am to 3pm Saturday and Sunday.
Closed Holidays.

The Missile Park is open dawn to dark seven days a week. For
more information concerning events call the White Sands Missile
Range Museum (505) 678-8824, or email burkettr@wsmr.army.mil.
Q - I drove the steep grade from Cloudcroft to Alamogordo in 
my van last month. The smell as I arrived in Alamogordo told 
me I had over-heated my brakes. Is there any way to avoid brake
over-heating on that stretch of Highway 82?

A - Take a hint from truckers who drive the big rigs on that
stretch...use your transmission to slow you down and NOT your

If you have a 4 or 5 speed manual transmission, try driving in
third gear. The torque drag should be enough to keep your
vehicle from going any more that 45-50 miles per hour without
using the brakes.

If you are driving an automatic, try a lower gear below "D". 
In my truck it is the next lowest gear below "D".

Do not ride your brakes going down that steep 17 miles from
Cloudcroft to Alamogordo. It could cause damage to your brakes
or, even worse, brake failure.
August 2-5 -- Gathering of Circles. A celebration of
Native American spirituality.
For more information, call (915)-550-3302.

August 11 -- Persied Meteor Shower Watch.
White Sands National Monument, 8:30pm.
For more information, call (505) 479-6124

August 11-18 -- Otero County Fair.
Frontier Village, Otero County Fairgrounds.
Alamogordo, New Mexico

August 13, 14 -- Camp Meeting. Desert Reign Trio in
Concert. Rio Penasco RV camp

August 17 and 19 -- Singing in the Clouds.
High School Cafeteria.
For more information, call (505) 682-2733.

August 23 -- New Mexico State Game Commission meeting.
The Lodge. Public invited.

August 24 -- Cloudcroft/Hagerman football game (away).

September 1-2 -- Labor Day Fiesta. Sidewalk sales,
entertainment, street dance, and games for kids.
For more information, call (505) 682-2733.

September 1 -- Cloudcroft Bears vs Jal (football)

September 7 -- Cloudcroft Bears vs Tularosa (football)

September 15 -- Enchanted Jazz Festival.
Alamogordo, New Mexico.
For more information, call (505) 434-0559.

September 15 -- Cloudcroft Bears vs Hatch (football)

September 15-16 -- Hot Air Balloon Invitational.
White Sand National Monument.
For more information, call (505) 682-3785.

September 16 -- Governor's 10k Run/Walk.
40k Time Trial Bike Race.
For more information, call (505) 687-2133

September 21 -- Cloudcroft Bears vs Ft. Sumner (football)

September 28 -- Cloudcroft Bears vs Lordsburg (football)

September 29-30 Aspencade Tours.

Cloudcroft Art Society meets the second Thursday of each month
in the Old Red Brick School House. Call (505) 682-2494 for
more information.

Senior Van from Timberon to Alamogordo leaves the Timberon
Lodge promptly at 8:30 every Tuesday morning.

If you have news of public events in the Cloudcroft area, email

For an online calendar of area events, click the Events Calendar
link in the left column of our home page:


Dear Newsletter:

Since everyone is busy reminiscing about the good old hot days
of their youth, let me put my two cents worth in.

The hottest day it ever got here in El Paso was 114 about six
years ago. I knew something was up when I left for work that
day about 7:30 in the morning and it was already 90 degrees.

The thermometer just kept climbing, like a busted escalator 
going up, up, up. By noon, the streets were deserted (not the
first time El Paso became a ghost town). I heard on the radio
that cars driving on the highway were getting blow outs from 
the tires expanding too much due to the heat. Even the city 
swimming pools had to close. The water was starting to boil. 

When the sun finally set that day, around 9:30 in the evening, 
the temperature had gone back down to 110. I decided to drive 
over to death valley. You know, to get away from the heat.

Ray Fourzan,
El Paso, Texas

Dear Newsletter:

I subscribed to your newsletter quite a while ago but only 
recently started to read it. (If you procrastinate as much as
I do, you'll understand.) 

I just want to say thank you for reminding me of what "real 
people" are like. You newsletter reminds me that it is good for
people to meet together and share life and personal stuff. I 
grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, where you always said 
hello to the people you met on the sidewalk, even if you didn't
know them. Visiting Cloudcroft reminds me of those sort of 
people. When I grew up, we NEVER locked the front door. When we
went on vacation we kept the door unlocked so the neighbors 
could get IN the house if something went wrong. Can you fathom

Now, I live in Las Cruces where I complain when the temperatures
get close to 100 degrees and the rain rarely falls. The people
here are a measure better than in the bigger cities, but they
still aren't friendly and open (unless they grew up in a place
like my hometown). We also lock the doors at night. What a 
shame. At least we live in a fairly decent neighborhood.

My wife and I love to come to Cloudcroft for the weekend when
we can. We go hiking (of course), enjoy the forests, and always
bring home a pie from the general store. (They have the best 
pie crust I've ever tasted. It even beats my grandma's pies!) 
We also like to rent a cabin at Maple Crest. It's just the 
perfect blend of homeyness, accommodations, spaciousness, and
affordability for our tastes.

The wife and I are roughly 15 years from retiring. In the 
meanwhile, we dream of moving to a place like Cloudcroft so 
that we can escape the heat and enjoy friendly people. If I 
could tolerate the longer commute to White Sands, I think we
would move sooner. 

God bless you,
Scott W. Schallock

Dear Newsletter:

Our family has camped at Cloudcroft several times and enjoy it

However, we are becoming more concerned about the possibility
of encountering bears, especially since we camp in a tent. Do
you have any information about how often bears give campers
problems in the National Forest campgrounds in the Cloudcroft

We're always careful about food smells and storing our food 
properly, but still have trouble relaxing in our tent. Do you
think there's reason to be concerned?

Thanks for any insight you can offer.

Andrews, Texas.

[We will publish any comments we receive.]

Dear Newsletter:

My wife and I live with our three children in the "ever-pleasant
El Paso" and have come to really enjoy your newsletter, 
delightful insights and humor.

My son and I just returned from a three week trip to mainland
China and I have spent a bit of time today catching up on 
e-mails. Your "pooper scooper" insights were again a wonderful
tonic of humor. Our hope is that one day soon we would be able
to have a place of our own in the Cloudcroft area so we too 
can enjoy those cold mornings and delightful rain showers.

Ed and Julie Sinke

Dear Newsletter:

I am a frequent visitor to the Sacramentos. A few years ago, I
discovered Bluff Springs and simply fell in love with it!

Over the years, I've camped there many times with my family 
and I think it is the best-kept secret in Southern New Mexico.
I'm almost afraid to tell folks about it - I don't want too 
many people to know about this magnificent spot in the 
mountains. But do you know much about the history of this 
scenic, spring-fed bluff? 

El Paso 

[We will publish any comments we receive.]

Dear Newsletter:

I just moved to Mayhill about 4 months ago and have subscribed
to the newsletter for a month or so.

I always enjoy your opening stories and this one brought tears
to my eyes, I was laughing so hard. I don't know what's wrong
with me, but dog poop stories just crack me up! We had a German
Shepherd who would punish herself when she had an accident. We
would come home to find her cowering in her self punishment 
spot in the basement. You just couldn't be angry at her, she
looked so pathetic.

Just wanted to let you know that I enjoy the newsletter. You 
have a great sense of humor!

Alyssa Malen
Mayhill, NM

Dear Newsletter:

I love the informational updates and the pictures of Cloudcroft.
Also, I am so glad that you all are taking care of animals who
are abandoned and need homes. If I had tons of money, I would
build a huge place and let all animals live there as I would
hire full time workers to take care of them and feed them.

I carry dog food and cat food in the trunk of my car in case I
see hungry animals and can't get them to a vets or a shelter. 
It is wonderful that y'all are so good to them, too.

Thanks for all the news. It makes me feel closer to Cloudcroft
and I need that touch from over there. 

Patricia McNutt

Dear Newsletter:

I had been missing my "Cloudcroft Newsletter" when it dawned 
on me that my husband changed our internet service and so our
e-mail address was new.

Is there a way that I could have my missing issues sent? I am
missing all of the July issues. We really enjoy them and I am
feeling left out. We own property up there in Cloud Country 
West, and hope to build a cabin before too long.

Thanks for doing such a great job! It is such a nice way to 
stay in touch with the area. 

Again, you do a great job and you are very entertaining! 

J. Moore
Las Cruces

[All past newsletters can be emailed to yourself, or anyone
else you want, by visiting the Past Issues link at the end of
this newsletter.]

Dear Newsletter:

Just a note of appreciation for your fine newsletter.

My wife and I got married back in February and had the distinct
pleasure of spending a week in Cloudcroft. (Daisy's Lodge, to 
be exact.) It was wonderful!!

Now I get to relive those wonderful and happy memories each and
every week as I read through your newsletter.

Thanks again!
Dave Smith
McKinleyville, CA

Dear Newsletter:

I have written to you before and try not to write too much, but
sometimes it is so hard to resist. I'm like your Mother, your
stories are too funny not to publish. I have listened to you on
the radio hear in Lubbock many moons ago and you would always 
make me laugh. When I discovered last year that it was YOU 
behind the newsletters, I smiled and said, "So that's where he
is!!" I enjoy your stories and look forward to them all the 
time. So I will tell you what everyone tells me about my 
writing, you need to publish your stories! So get with it! 

I have been coming up to Cloudcroft all my life, it is like my
second home. I know a lot of people there and I love the 
Mayberry RFD kind of atmosphere it has. You know what I mean,
the whole place reeks with peacefulness, and all of its 
citizens are so kind.

Someday I want to live there. But I have also found that 
kindness goes all the way down the mountain into Alamogordo.

I had a blow out one time on a brand-new tire, and needed to 
buy a new tire. There was a wonderful man there at a tire store
that gave me a brand new tire to get home on and never would
accept any type of payment for it!!!

So, we always say Alamogordo has an Angel! But now, I think the
whole total atmosphere of Walmart puts just about anyone in a
bad mood. Here in Lubbock, Texas, going to Walmart for me is
like pulling teeth. It's like going to the mall, which I avoid
too. You have to fight for a parking place, then you fight your
way in, and the whole time everyone is bumping into you and 
grabbing things out of your hands.

But I am not completely putting Walmart down; I have discovered,
though, that the best time to visit Walmart is at 3:00 am in 
the morning when you have the whole place just about to 
yourself, except for the other people that suffer insomnia

And as for the weather, here in Lubbock it is hot, way over in
the three digits, although the air here is very dry, which is a

I spent a week in Branson, Mo. and Eureka Springs, Ak. last 
week and I almost died. The humidity was horrible; you know, 
the kind that when you step out of the shower, you have to keep
on drying off to get dry? But then you never really do?

When I got home everyone was complaining here about the heat, 
and I had to remind them that it may be hot, but the air feels
so good. Soft and dry, not that sticky stuff that you can cut 
through. But we have had a drought this summer, every afternoon
the clouds taunt us with a little bit of drops and some thunder,
but no rain. Reading your newsletter refreshes my soul. I 
can smell the pines, and hear the hummingbirds and distant dogs

Which leads me to the last subject, dog-poop. I loved your last
article in your last newsletter. I told myself that I love you
and Peg even more because you are DOG PEOPLE!!

I relate totally, although I am not allowed to go to the dog 
pound, because I would own every mutt and Jeff there. I can't 
turn away stray animals. I rescue them and find homes for them.

My vet is a very close friend and she is forever finding homes
for my lost orphans. And every cat, squirrel and bird in the 
neighborhood knows to come see me, I will always have a treat
for them. But I only own a Golden Retriever named Zoey and she
is a handful.

I work with kids and she loves kids, she's just a big kid 
herself. But oh, can she poop!! I had a poop problem there for
a while concerning too much poop. So my friendly vet sent me 
to the health food store and we got Zoey fixed up with all 
natural stuff and she doesn't poop as much. (She would be so 
embarrassed if she knew what I was writing about!)

Anyway to finally end this thing, I got tired of the once a 
week poop-patrol job like you do. So I fixed the problem. I got
a five gallon bucket and I go out every morning and scoop the
poop and put it in the bucket. Then every week I dump the 
bucket. It saves lots of wear and tear on my back and is less 
of an odor problem.

OK. I am finished with all I have to say, I will quit now and 
wait in anticipation for your next newsletter! Keep up the good

Della Eckles,
Lubbock, Texas 

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Copyright © 2001 Cloudcroft Online
The Travel and Visitor's Guide to Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
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